No cancer fund decision defended by Carwyn Jones
- 29 May 2012
- From the section Wales politics
First Minister Carwyn Jones has defended a Welsh government decision not to set up a fund to pay for cancer drugs.
Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies accused Labour of subsidising paracetamol for millionaires through its free prescription policy.
During fiery Senedd exchanges, Mr Jones defended Welsh government spending on treating cancer patients.
And he claimed some Tories wanted to get rid of Mr Davies as their leader.
Establishing a specific fund for cancer drugs, as the UK government has done for the NHS in England, is a key part of Welsh Conservative policy.
At question time on Tuesday, Mr Davies said the move would cost £3.5m and that there were 24 drugs available in England that were not available to patients in Wales.
Meanwhile, free prescriptions were giving "millionaires access to paracetamol", he said.
But Mr Jones said there was no need for a fund because more was already being spent on treating cancer in Wales than in England.
There was a "basic flaw" in the Tory position on free prescriptions, he said, because it would continue to allow over-60s to receive them regardless of their income.
To cheers from his own benches, the first minister said: "The problem with the leader of the opposition is this: he substitutes abuse for ability, bombast for eloquence.
"I say to him, there are some in his party that want to see the back of him as the leader of the opposition.
"Can I offer him my full support. He can stay there for the next 20 years as far as I'm concerned."
Mr Davies later apologised for causing personal offence by calling the first minister "the enemy of cancer patients".
Mr Jones, who lost his mother to cancer around the time he won the Welsh Labour leadership in 2009, raised a point of order in the chamber.
The Tory leader withdrew the remark which he said was directed at Welsh government policy, adding that his own mother died of cancer when he was 15 years old.
Mr Jones also clashed with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood who pointed out that unlike Wales, the devolved administrations of Scotland and Northern Ireland were acquiring the power to borrow money.
"Does the first minister think its coincidental or just bad luck that soon the only elected body in the United Kingdom without the power to borrow money will be the one in which his party has an unbroken record of power?" she asked.
Mr Jones said the UK government was "blocking" borrowing powers for the Welsh government.
In a jibe at her party, he said Plaid had "no ideas to borrow".
Standing in for his party leader Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black asked whether the first minister could guarantee elderly people would not have their care downgraded when national social care standards are introduced.
Mr Jones said the Welsh government wanted to provide a "more level playing field so that everyone in Wales regardless of where they live have access to the same level of care".